First Aid for someone with a jellyfish sting

Stings from most jellyfish can be extremely painful, but do not usually require hospital treatment.

Treatment for most jellyfish stings

There are some jellyfish, include box jellyfish and Irukandji, that are dangerous and require emergency first aid.

Symptoms can include immediate burning pain and red or purple whip-like weals. In major stings there can be:

  • cessation of breathing
  • cardiac arrest
1. Rinse the area with vinegar, for at least 30 seconds. If you don’t have vinegar, use sea water.
2. Remove tentacles from the skin with tweezers.
3. Once the tentacles are removed, soak the area in hot but not scalding water for 20 to 45 minutes.
4. If hot water is not available, apply a cold pack to help the pain. Don’t apply ice directly to unprotected skin.
5. If there are any signs of respiratory distress, call 000.

Treatment for box jellyfish

1. Call 000.
2. Rinse the area with vinegar for at least 30 seconds.
3. If vinegar is not available, carefully remove tentacles and rinse well with sea water.
4. Be careful not to rub the sting area or to get sand into the sting.
5. To manage pain, soak in hot, but not scalding water.
6. Monitor their breathing and pulse.
7. If necessary, begin CPR. 

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